Flower: Official Review
by Gotakibono


Basic Information:
Developer: ThatGameCompany
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Date of Release: February 12, 2009
Price: $6.99
Trophies: 1 2 11


Overview:
Flower is quite unlike any other game I have ever played. In the words of developer thatgamecompany, Flower is a "videogame version of a poem, exploiting the tension between urban bustle and natural serenity." While that may sound odd and slightly pretentious, the result is pleasantly innocent and uplifting. Perhaps even more unexpectedly its unqiue qualities shine through and come together to create a fantastic video game.

Gameplay:
First of all, you control the wind using the Sixaxis motion sensor to direct a flower petal on the breeze and you gust forward by holding any of the face buttons. As the petal passes over nearby flowers, they bloom and release their own petals into its wake, which follow you across hills carpeted in delicate swaying wild grass under gorgeous oceans of summer blue. Every new petal from bloomed flowers emits a calming strum or twinkling murmur into the gentle flow of background music and pivotal events are embroidered by the audible rush of wind. It is truly a remarkable thing to behold as the petals begin to take on a life of their own as they journey over the simply stunning landscape. Also, the controls are sublime and it's probably the best use of the SixAxis controls that I've ever seen. They take a bit of time to get used to, but soon you'll find yourself gliding through the levels with ease.


The grass animation and use of sunlight is almost without compare. It almost made me want
to become a gardener.

Certain flowers are held in a translucent circle, and collecting all the petals in a group of these will have a direct effect on their surroundings. The flowers will spread waves of colourful vibrancy over sun-bleached meadows, for example, or will activate wind turbines and lighting beacons at nighttime. Apart from collecting these petals and admiring the awe-inspiring scenery, you will also gust through gullies on occasional, sympathetic rails, sweep through caves and soar from the crests of half-buried obelisks to ascend the walls of canyons and gather far-flung petals. This is how you progress through the game, moving between two or three significant areas in each level and restoring them by inviting their occuping flowers to bloom. After you've bloomed a certain amount of flowers you float into an end-of-level vortex that transports you home to a dusty windowsill in a city apartment. This apartment is where your current level's flower is revitalised by the events you've portrayed in its imagination. To put it simply, it is surreal yet brilliant in its other worldly execution.

Singleplayer:
Flower is a brief, sensuous journey that contains no little than six levels and an ingenious ending credits level. The game isn't much of a challenge (you could finish it in around 3-4 hours) but I think that's besides the point, because by the time a challenge should become in any way relevant you won't care. Flower's gentle pace and expressive visuals have already disarmed you of traditional notions of achievement. The superficially repetitive design is embellished by the game's elegant grace and simplicity to the point that the things you do and see are the unspoken focus of your efforts. Spreading light across a field and gliding through canyons at knee height is empoweringly tactile, and the game is aesthetically coherent down to the smallest detail.


The game is all building up to your visit to the city. I won't spoil anything but it's quite an
interesting and beautiful climax.

Each and every level has its own unqiue atmosphere and theme, which keeps the somewhat simple gameplay fresh. You'll be taken on a journey across all sorts of landscapes and you'll have great fun discovering and exploring them through the viewpoint of your flower.

Technical:
Flower's an absolute technical stunner. The beautifully fitting soundtrack is sensuous and really brings the game to life, with each flower omitting a delicate "Ding" as it's bloomed. I can only imagine the amount of blood, sweat and tears it took to create such a lovely gaming experience. But I can say all of the effort shows and when you consider it's a PSN game, you can't help but be impressed.


The controls make great use of the SixAxis's motion sensing. Perhaps one of the best
examples to date of how it can be used effectively.

The way the petals move through the air is so convincing that it requires almost no consideration, and the silhouettes of industry that lurk in the pitch-black transition between the game's cheerful initiation and the final few levels are like shapes moving in the water. It's just amazing to behold and admire.


Gameplay: 9/10
Excellent controls and gameplay that's so beautiful in its simplicity. Who thought flowers could be so fun?

Singleplayer: 9.5/10
A game that you can get lost in and just play repeatly for the simple pleasure it gives. Remarkable really considering it's a PSN game.

Technical: 10/10
Awesome. Sound production, graphics and animations are all top-notch.


Overall: 9.5/10


It is, simply, a game where you want to see what happens next, because whatever does happen next will be delicate, beautiful and pleasurable. The sense of immersion is something that I haven't found in many other games. It has all the characteristics of a well-designed videogame, a game that's so amazing to enjoy that it's almost an art form. You can't argue with the designers' motivation to create something new and different, all the while making sure it's still good enough to play without going overboard. The developer's candour and Flower's composition are honest enough to make it clear whether or not the game will appeal to you in seconds. Safe to say, it did to me.